COVID-19 contact tracing and facility mapping with ArcGIS Indoors

April 23, 2020 David Hamilton

While physical distancing is our mandate during the COVID-19 crisis, many of our essential front-line workers cannot adhere to this rule while they work to keep us safe. For this reason, contact tracing within essential workplaces will become a crucial component to monitoring and limiting the spread of the virus. 

I recently spent some time in the hospital with my elderly mom. With COVID-19 concerns running amok in our brains, trust me when I say this was the last place we wanted to be in. But given her condition, we also understood that it was exactly where she needed to be. My time there got me thinking about the tracking of employees to provide contact tracing if needed. At the time, I couldn’t help but wonder how crucial contact tracing could become if the COVID situation continued an upward trajectory. 

During her time at the hospital, my mom spent 13 days in three different hospital wards. With the crisis escalating, one becomes hyper-aware of the many interactions patients have with different healthcare workers and fellow patients, and the number is staggering! I found myself scrutinizing my mom’s every interaction and wondered where that person had been previously. Who did they interact with? And what risk could those factors pose to my mom’s health? In short, how are facilities like hospitals managing the movement of people and groups to help their containment strategies?

Fortunately, the technology exists today where that guesswork can be alleviated. As the name implies, ArcGIS Indoors is an indoor mapping system that provides a common operating picture for executives, employees, and others to understand, manage, and use their workplace environment. Using Indoors, hospital management could further help to ensure that healthcare workers who recently treated COVID-19 patients would be at a safe distance from other patients before proper decontamination procedures.

ArcGIS Indoors takes what GPS navigation can do in the outdoors, like navigation and parcel tracking, and apply the same capabilities to indoor activities and assets through a connected workplace. Imagine being able to pin-point which hospital staff or resident came into contact with a COVID-19 patient and being able to act rapidly and definitively to mitigate the risk to others.    

ArcGIS Indoors enables a collection of highly accurate positional tracks that can be analyzed and visualized. With the help of geolocation, Indoors provides versatile real-time data on everything that is happening, including placements and conditions of assets and human movements, while also making the data available for analysis to help detect patterns. Using standard GIS technology, these types of data can then be used to trace the movements of healthcare workers, patients and assets in terms of both time and space, thereby providing valuable insight when the need arises. For a closer look at indoor mapping, this blog post does a nice job in describing Esri solutions that can be configured to meet a facility’s specific needs during the pandemic.

For more information on how Esri technology is being leveraged across Canada at every level, have a look at our COVID-19 Canada Resource Hub.

Explore COVID-19 resources at esri.ca/COVID19Canada. To strengthen business continuity, Esri is providing the Coronavirus Business Continuity Solution at no cost. Contact your Esri Canada account manager if you have an ArcGIS account. For new users, please request assistance through the Esri Disaster Response Program.

About the Author

David Hamilton

David Hamilton is the Public Safety Industry Manager for Esri Canada. His efforts are focused on advising customers how to use GIS technology to improve all areas of public safety, specifically (NG)9-1-1, law enforcement, fire services, emergency medical services, emergency management, and search and rescue. Prior to joining Esri Canada in 2010, David managed the GIS for E-Comm 9-1-1 in Vancouver, and worked for the RCMP at the Integrated Security Unit for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games where he managed their Common Operating Picture. Being active has been a major part of David’s personal life; soccer, track & field, skiing, cycling, hiking and now kayaking are all among his favourite activities.

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